Farmers are cultivating tomatoes successfully in the region including the vast Barind tract getting its good yield and better prices in the market.
They are very enthusiastic and optimistic over high market price and suitable climatic conditions despite the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic situation.
Tomato, an attractive vegetable to the consumers, has been appearing in different local markets of the region for the last couple of weeks here.
“Many farmers have already changed their fortunes through tomato cultivation in the region. They are seen earning between Tk 45,000 to Tk 50,000 by cultivating tomatoes on one bigha of land in a season,” said Mozammel Haque, a farmer of Bidirpur village under Godagari upazila.
Tomato cultivation has also created job opportunities for hundreds of educated youths of the region and it could change the socio-economic condition of the poor if marketing and cost-effective environment-friendly technologies are ensured, he opined.
The farmers here mainly have cultivated different varieties of tomato like ‘Nasib’, ‘NL-642’, ‘Slamot-83’, ‘Bongio’, ‘Mintu Super’, ‘Bizli’ and few others in different areas across the whole upazila this season.
The farmers grow tomatoes in plenty and supply vegetables worth Tk 2 to 3 crore to capital Dhaka and other districts every year.
Tozammel Haque, a tomato grower at Mohishalbari village said, “I cultivated tomatoes on three-bigha of land costing Tk 20,000 per bigha this season. I have already started collecting tomatoes from the field and selling in the markets”.
“We didn’t face any serious problem with tomato farming this year,” said Ali Azam, another farmer of Harishankar Pur village under the same upazila, who is happy with his harvest.
Target of the cash crop farming has surpassed in Godagari upazila as it becomes famous by virtue of its better yield attained by the farmers over a decade.
More than 5,500 hectares of land were brought under tomato farming in the upazila this year, said Monzurul Haque, District Training Officer of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
Early varieties of tomato are also available in the local markets abundantly while sales rates as well as the price have been high.
“One kilogram of tomato is being sold at Tk 140 to 160 in the local market. It is beyond the purchasing capacity of lower and lower middle-income people like us,” said Noyantara Begum, a housewife living in Tikapara of Rajshahi city.
The wholesale price of a maund of tomato is now about Tk 4,000 to Tk 5,500, but its price will come down to Tk 100 per maund at the end of this season, tomato traders said, reports BSS.
Sirajul Islam, additional director of DAE, Rajshahi, said tomato farming is gaining popularity in the region, particularly in the vast tract of Barind area, as its cultivation is profitable here.
He said there was no shortage of quality hybrid-tomato seed this year. Moreover, due to strict control over marketing tomato seeds, no adulterated seed was sold here.
Agriculturist Rahman Islam said tomatoes are widely cultivated in the region as the total land under tomato cultivation doubled in the last seven years, while yield tripled.
Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) developed 10 high yielding varieties and modern technologies for the farmers. The rates of production of the developed varieties are comparatively high and profitable than that of the domestic varieties.
As a result, tomato farmers were able to purchase quality seed as per their requirement.
Dr Shakhawat Hossain, senior scientific officer of BARI, said the soil and climate condition of the entire region, including Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj, are very suitable for tomato cultivation. “So, it is now widely cultivated on the dry land of the Barind area,” he added.
The farmers also prefer to cultivate some hybrid varieties of tomato which are high yielding and much more profitable.
Besides, different public and private commercial banks, especially Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB), are giving credit to farmers for tomato cultivation.
President of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries Md Muniruzzaman said the farmers may incur a loss due to lack of storage facilities here while thousands of tonnes of tomato get perished every year.
He said cold storage and processing plants can prevent the cash crop from being rotten aiming to save growers from financial loss.